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Here we go again with Denzel mentoring a rookie by sharing some of his ground rules. SAFE HOUSE is very formulaic, it only makes you think like it’s smart and if it weren’t for the intense, unforgiving gunfights, one of the most exciting I’ve seen in cinema (Tombstone‘s gunfight still takes top honor) SAFE HOUSE probably wouldn’t have much going to help me recommend it to you…
Oscar(r) winner Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds star in the action-thriller Safe House. Washington plays the most dangerous renegade from the CIA, who comes back onto the grid after a decade on the run. When the South African safe house he’s remanded to is attacked by mercenaries, a rookie operative (Reynolds) escapes with him. Now, the unlikely allies must stay alive long enough to uncover who wants them dead. For the past year, Matt Weston has been frustrated by his inactive, backwater post in Cape Town. A “housekeeper” who aspires to be a full-fledged agent, the loyal company man has been waiting for an opportunity to prove himself. When the first and only occupant he’s had proves to be the most dangerous man he’s ever met, Weston readies for duty. Tobin Frost has eluded capture for almost a decade. One of the best ops men that the CIA’s known, the ex-intelligence officer has given up assets and sold military intel to anyone with cash since he turned. From trading secrets to North Korea to aiding splinter cells, the damage he’s done to the U.S. is immeasurable. And he’s now back on the reservation with a secret. As soon as Frost is brought in for debriefing, mercenaries come and tear apart Weston’s safe house. Barely escaping, the unlikely partners must discover if their attackers have been sent by terrorists or someone on the inside who will kill anyone standing in the way. Now it’s up to Weston to figure out who he can trust before they’re both eliminated from the game.
Training Day, Unstoppable, and now SAFE HOUSE, you’d pair up Denzel as a seasoned, experienced character with a rookie or a newbie who eventually steps up to the plate. Denzel is back as Mr. know it all, Mr. one step ahead of you, and he’d proudly preach it too whether or not you’d want to hear it.
Ryan Reynolds plays the next Pine or the next Hawke, and just like those other guys, Reynolds’ character is fully equipped with the knowledge and is highly skilled but now, situation has shifted to where it forces him to put his own skills to the test.
The rookie is always motivated to prove himself worthy and the unlikely mentor, who’s used to working alone and has all kinds of ethos, is always entertained by the idea of having a protege.
By the way, why can’t Swedish director Daniel Espinosa find his own tone, his own style? Why does he have to make the film look as if it was helmed by Denzel’s go-to director, Tony Scott?! It even has that A-D-D feel to it.
I don’t necessarily think David Guggenheim’s script is all that clever, it’s not terrible, but it’s nowhere near impressive. Don’t get me wrong, the concept is fantastic, a CIA house being breached and you don’t know who’s responsible and who else may be on it, the line between bad guys and good guys get blurred, those are necessary elements for a pulse pounding thriller. But those of us hardcore fans of thrillers, may it be political or whodunit crime, would easily notice that all that Guggenheim did was put all the CIA smart vocabularies and slang into Tobin Frost’s lips (Denzel) and then have the CIA repeats the same thing in their own little playroom and then Guggenheim would throw a series of massive chaos in between.
GRADE: 3 out of 5
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